America's Hometown Girl

1/1/2019

Vanna recently shared memories of growing up in the Crescent Beach section, "I remember that feeling of being safe and secure, living in a very close-knit community-where everyone looked out for each other. Our parents treated all the kids as their own. I remember riding bikes, building forts in the woods, playing and hanging out with friends. It was the best childhood".

Vanna's friends weren't just childhood friends-those friends have remained life-long friends and they meet for a girl's weekend every year. There was no hesitation when asked who those friends were. She reeled off these names and noted they were maiden names: Tina Floyd, Joy Chandler, Dee Adams, Debbie Lewis, Debbie Doyle, Lisa Becker, Terry Allen, Sonya Hardee, Sabrina McLamb, Debbie Stoffel, Wendy Siceloff and Pam Watkins. All friends since the first grade and those friendships are still strong after 50 years. When she's visiting her dad, Herbert White she will visit some of her favorite places in town - Hoskin's Restaurant, and Painter's Ice Cream - where there's even a flavor named for her - Vanna Banana.

Tina Floyd Yates, owner of Hoskin's Restaurant, located on Main Street, North Myrtle Beach said that Vanna "was one of the most humble, honest and down to earth people. I couldn't ask for a better friend."

Vanna left North Myrtle Beach and headed to Atlanta to pursue a career in modeling and then moved on to Los Angeles to pursue acting. She contributes her interest in an acting career from learning that her cousin was an actor. And that actor was ruggedly handsome Christopher George, the lead actor in the popular television series Rat Patrol. She remembers learning this while recuperating from an appendectomy at the age of 10. She was watching Rat Patrol and her mom, Joan said "that's your cousin Christopher George!" Vanna thought, "if he can do it, so can I!". In 1982, her dream became a reality. Over 200 applicants competed for the position and after auditioning for producer Merv Griffin, Vanna became part of the Wheel of Fortune team on December 13, 1982.

Earning a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame meant the world to her. She remembers walking down Hollywood Boulevard in 1980 and seeing all the stars thinking, "one day I hope to have a Star". In 2006, upon receiving that star, she knew she had indeed "made it". She considers receiving the star a highlight of her career. Wheel of Fortune producer Merv Griffin fondly referred to Vanna as "America's Sweetheart", and to anyone that knows her or meets her readily agrees.

Vanna contributes the success of Wheel of Fortune to the fact that it provides family fun. There's so much craziness in the world so it's really nice that the entire family can play along for 30 minutes of fun and laughter. For most the airing of the show is weeknights at 7:00 P.M. during dinner time and it's a great family fun game show. And yes, for those wondering, she and Pat Sajak are friends behind the camera as well. Incredibly, they've never had a quarrel in their 36 years of working together.

Vanna is an avid knitter and enjoys crocheting as a favorite pastime. She even has her own brand of yarn, Lion Brand© Vanna's Choice Yarns©. Vanna chose to donate half the proceeds from the yarn sales to St. Jude's Children Hospital. Vanna chose St. Jude's because children with cancer are treated at no cost and St. Jude’s also has several research centers where they have developed some cures for certain cancers. "It touched my heart and that's why St. Jude's was chosen". To date over one million dollars has been donated to St. Jude's from the sale of Vanna's yarn.

Currently, Vanna is contracted with Wheel of Fortune until 2022. When asked what are her plans after 'Wheel', she responded with a smile on her face, "Oh my, what do you do after Wheel"? At this time Vanna plans to continue her philanthropic work, and enjoy time at home with her family. Currently both of her children are attending college.

Though she doesn't live in North Myrtle Beach, she says, "it has always been my home and always will be. I tell people everyday where I'm from. I'm very proud to have grown up here. I love North Myrtle Beach, I love my hometown!"

An exhibit featuring Vanna White is on display at the North Myrtle Beach Area Historical Museum, located at 799 2nd Avenue North, North Myrtle Beach.

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